The speed of dementia development was found to be associated with personality traits

During dementia, toxic deposits accumulate in the brain - amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles - causing patients to lose cognitive skills such as learning ability and memory. However, some elderly people with dementia are more able to resist the disease than others. What does this have to do with? A new study by scientists from Northwestern University (USA), published in Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, says that the cause is the patient's own personality.

Cognitive stability in dementia, i.e. the ability to live with brain neuropathology without critical symptoms, depends on what personality traits a person has. Thus, people with developed self-discipline, diligence, organization, motivation, who have great achievements - properties characteristic of such personality trait as high awareness - have greater cognitive stability. On the flip side, people with a neurotic personality trait, i.e., more inclined to anxiety, capriciousness, and impulsivity, had a lower cognitive function assessment, even though they had a low degree of neuropathology that scientists discovered after autopsy.

Such conclusions were reached when the experts analyzed data from 1375 participants of the Rush Memory and Aging Project conducted by specialists from the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Rush University. They studied the psychosocial reports that patients provided annually for several years, clinical data, information on psychological and cognitive functioning in the life of patients, as well as post-mortem autopsy data.

The authors argue that their study is one of the first to show that the patient's personality is related to how well they can resist neurodegeneration. This information can be used to help patients to maintain cognitive function even at high risk of dementia.

Sept. 28, 2020, 10:42 a.m.

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